ARLINGTON, Texas — Yu Darvish brought the heat to win for the first time in eight starts and the Texas Rangers squeezed out a series-clinching victory.
Relying heavily on his fastball, primarily a four-seamer, Darvish struck out eight in 6 2-3 scoreless innings and the Rangers scored twice on a squeeze bunt in a 3-2 victory over Mat Latos and the Cincinnati Reds on Sunday.
“His performance was good. He was going against another good one, and they matched zeroes,” manager Ron Washington said. “Once we put the runs on the board, Darvish did what we needed him to do. Looked like the same Darvish to me.”
The Rangers finally scored against Latos (7-2) in the fifth when Elvis Andrus bunted. Latos made a barehanded grab and scoop in one motion. The toss home hit the earflap of Engel Beltre, who was still on the ground when Leonys Martin also scored for a 2-0 lead.
“It was just a reaction. He bunted it pretty hard. I felt I could make a play,” Latos said. “ As I look back, I should have held on to the ball.”
Darvish (8-3) won for the first time since May 16, ending his longest professional winless drought — in his two years with the Rangers or seven in Japan before that. The right-hander was 0-2 with a 2.93 ERA in those seven games, when Texas scored only 12 runs while he was on the mound.
“As a starter, if the team doesn’t win the day that you pitch, that can be really frustrated, so that was my thing,” Darvish said through his translator, though he insisted later he wasn’t overwhelmed by the winless streak. “I was thinking how I could live day by day, and nothing really special.”
The AL West-leading Rangers have won 10 of 13 games since a six-game losing streak. Cincinnati has lost seven of nine.